A pair of masked Anbu guards led Gai down a long, dimly lit hall, to a door. One of the guards unlocked the door and opened it.
A dark-haired woman sat in the corner of the room, her wrists and ankles shackled. She glared at Gai with the most hate-filled look he'd ever seen.
"Why did you do it?" he asked.
"Why do you think?"
"I want to hear it from your own mouth."
"Fine. I did it because you're a filthy, evil pervert, a stain upon this village, and I wanted to see you brought down. The Hokage refused to do anything about you, so I had no choice but to take things into my own hands."
"If you detest me so much, why didn't you just order them to kill me?"
She lifted her chin, glaring at him. "I'm not a murderer. I wouldn't kill someone, no matter how loathsome he might be. I just wanted you punished. I wanted you to pay for your sins."
"My sins," he repeated, keeping his face calm and expressionless. "And what might those be?"
"Exploiting an innocent boy who trusted you."
Gai's hands clenched tighter. "Do you have any idea what they did? Those two rogue ninjas that you hired?"
She hesitated. "Well…no. I told them that I didn't need to know the details."
"You wanted me to suffer, but you were too cowardly to even give them specific instructions. You didn't want to think about what your actions would entail. You didn't want to sully your oh-so-pure and righteous mind with those thoughts, did you?" The blood pounded in his head like a war-drum. "Well, I'll tell you what they did. They attacked me, and then that woman, Cho—one of the rogues you hired—she used a Mind Transfer Jutsu to steal my body. And then she raped and tortured Lee."
The blood drained from her face. "What?"
"You are responsible for that. You may as well have done it with your own hands."
"No. No, that isn't fair! It isn't my fault. You can't blame me. I never asked her to hurt him."
"You told them to hurt me. But you didn't tell them how. And Cho is a genius of torture. She chose the method that she knew would hurt me the most."
"But that…that makes no sense. Why would she hurt him?"
"Because she knew that I love Lee more than life itself. She knew that hurting him would cause me more pain than anything she could do to me. So she raped him. She subjected him to cruel, perverse torments. She nearly destroyed a kind, good person. All because of your twisted desire to take justice into your own hands."
"No! You can't blame me! You can't blame me!" she shrieked.
"You are the worst kind of scum," said Gai. "You're even worse than those thugs you hired. At least they don't pretend to be righteous."
"No, no! I didn't mean it to happen that way!" Her eyes were wide and crazed, filled with a desperate, panicked indignation. "It's your fault for taking him as a lover in the first place! It's your fault! Pervert!" Her voice had risen to a scream.
"I'm finished," Gai said to the Anbu guards. Then he turned and walked out of the cell.
He returned to the apartment and found a note from Lee: Out training. For Lee, it was an unusually brief note. He normally at least closed with an "I love you." Gai left the apartment.
Shortly after, he found Lee in the training field, kicking a log dummy, though his movements lacked their usual energy. "Lee…"
Lee stopped, turned, and gave him a forced smile. "Gai Sensei. I am sorry I was not there when you returned. I needed to get out of the apartment for awhile."
"It's all right." He paused. "They arrested the woman who hired those rogue ninjas. She'll stand trial tomorrow, though she already confessed, so it's pretty much an open and shut case. She'll probably get life in prison or worse. Hiring rogues to harm a Konoha ninja is considered a serious form of treachery, regardless of the motive."
"I see." Lee's voice was unreadable. "Did she say why she did it?"
Gai hesitated. "To punish me."
Lee's shoulders tensed. "For your relationship with me, you mean?"
Lee bowed his head and clenched his fists. His shoulders trembled.
"Why do people hate us so much?" he whispered.
Gai approached him. "Not everyone does. And it isn't you they hate, anyway. It was me that person wanted to hurt. You just got caught in the middle."
Lee wiped the back of one bandage-wrapped hand across his eyes and looked up. "Let's go home, Gai Sensei."
Gai gazed into those dark eyes and nodded.
Asato Ayumi was tried the next day, found guilty and condemned to serve a life-sentence in Konoha's prison.
Over the next few weeks, Gai and Lee went about their usual routine, training together and going on the occasional minor mission. Gai suspected Tsunade was waiting, giving them time to recover from their ordeal before she assigned them anything too difficult.
Lee's physical wounds had healed. He'd given in to Gai's urgings and seen a medical ninja a few days after the attack. His mental and emotional wounds, Gai knew, would take much longer. Lee had changed since the incident. He was quieter, more subdued. He didn't smile often—and even when he did, there was a shadow in his eyes.
One night, as they got ready for bed, Lee turned to him and said, "Gai Sensei?"
Gai paused. He'd just begun to undress; he sat on the edge of the bed, an orange legwarmer in one hand. "Yes, Lee?"
"It has been almost a month since we have made love."
"I know. I didn't think you'd be ready so soon after…after what happened. I wanted to give you some time to recover."
Lee took a step closer. "Will you make love to me tonight?" he whispered.
"Lee, you…are you sure?"
"Yes." Lee knelt in front of him, hugged Gai's leg and rested his head on Gai's knee. He stared into space. "I need you. I need your touch to help me forget what that person did to me. Your love will erase the pain and sadness." Tears glistened at the corners of his eyes. "I want things to be the way they were between us."
"If you're certain…"
"I am certain. Just…be gentle. All right?"
"I will be. I promise." He swallowed, his mouth dry, his heart pounding. "Lay down."
Lee stretched out on the bed. Gai lay beside him, propped up on one elbow, and looked into Lee's eyes. Lee had already taken off his jacket; he wore only his close-fitting green jumpsuit. Gai lay a hand on Lee's chest, then leaned down and placed a soft kiss on his lips. "You are so beautiful. You know that?" His fingertips wandered over Lee's ribcage, feeling the slight bump of a rib that had broken and healed long ago. "Being able to touch you like this, to kiss you, to run my hands over your body…you can't imagine what it's like for me. How good it feels."
"I think I can imagine. I feel the same way when I touch you."
He pulled Lee closer, holding Lee's body gently against his, and trailed his fingers across the warm, velvet-soft skin at the nape of his neck. "May I undress you, my love?"
Gai slid one hand beneath the collar of Lee's jumpsuit and gently peeled it away, revealing the slim, toned body beneath. Though he'd gained more muscle since growing into adulthood, Lee was still leaner than Gai, and he didn't have much body hair. At nineteen, he could have passed for sixteen. Gai loved all aspects of Lee, but his youthful appearance was part of what attracted him. He still wondered, sometimes, if that was wrong.
His hand wandered down to stroke Lee's thigh as he planted tiny kisses along his neck and shoulder. Lee's breathing quickened. He took one of Gai's hands in both his own, raised it to his mouth and kissed his fingertips, one by one. Each touch of that warm mouth sent a jolt down the nerves of Gai's arm. "I like your hands," Lee said quietly.
"You do?" Gai asked, just as quietly.
Lee nodded, his cheeks turning pink. "They're so strong." With one fingertip, he traced a line in Gai's palm. "So big. But so gentle. Just like you." He pressed Gai's palm to his cheek and looked up at him. "That's what always captivated me about you. You are so powerful, but so warm and kind, so filled with life and laughter. Even the first time I saw you, before I had any idea who you were, I was so dazzled by you." He turned his face to kiss the center of Gai's palm. "You are my light," he whispered.
"And you're mine." Gently, he began to unwind the bandages around Lee's hands and forearms, exposing his scarred knuckles. He kissed them, one by one. Then his hand slid down Lee's side, over one slim hip, down his leg. His fingers brushed the cool, hard weights around Lee's ankle. Then he reached between Lee's thighs and curled one hand around his cock. He heard the breath catch in Lee's throat, saw his eyelids flutter.
Gai's free hand caressed Lee's face, thumb tracing his lower lip. He loved the sight of that face more than anything else in the world.
Lee gulped. "Gai Sensei..."
"What is it, love?" Gai whispered into his ear. "What do you need?"
"Take me. Please."
Gai's breath caught in his throat. "Do you really…I mean…we can just do like we always do. I don't want to hurt you…"
"You will not hurt me. Because you love me. I trust you." He looked into Gai's eyes. "I do not want what happened to ruin this for us. I will not allow anyone to drive a wedge between us or poison our love with fear."
"Lee, you don't have to force yourself to do this just to prove a point."
"It is not like that. I really want this. I want you. I want to feel you moving inside me. I have fantasized about it for so many years—being taken by you. I want it deep down, in the center of my being. I need it."
Gai took a deep breath. "Very well." His hands trembled, then steadied.
Holding Lee's gaze with his own, he reached over, took the jar of lubricant from the nightstand and unscrewed the lid. Then he dipped one finger into the cool mixture and slipped his hand under Lee's ass, into the dry crevice between his cheeks. His finger pressed against the small, tight hole there. He looked into Lee's eyes, a silent question, and Lee nodded slightly. Gai's finger slid into him.
Lee's cheeks flushed brighter, and his chest rose and fell with each breath. His eyes started to close.
"No," said Gai. "Keep them open."
Lee blinked. "Gai Sensei?"
"I want to look into your eyes. I want to see everything you're feeling. Keep them open. Can you do that for me?"
Lee nodded. Gai could see his pulse fluttering in his throat.
He slid another finger inside him. Lee's eyes widened a little. Gai slowly moved his fingers, exploring him, until he found that special spot. He rubbed his fingertip over it, then pressed gently.
Lee gasped. His fingers dug into the bed sheets, and he whimpered. "Gai Sensei…" His voice was soft, pleading, almost desperate.
"Are you ready?"
"Get on your knees."
Lee rolled over, then raised himself onto his hands and knees. With both hands, Gai separated his cheeks, exposing the little dimple of flesh. Gai hesitated. Lee's body had long since healed from his ordeal, but still…
Panting, flushed, Lee looked expectantly over his shoulder.
Gai gulped. His fingers slid into Lee again and carefully stretched him open. All the while, he looked into those dark eyes, ready to stop if he saw even a flicker of pain or fear in them. He and Lee had been through intense sparring matches that left both of them bruised and sore from head to toe, but here, in the bedroom, he touched his lover as if he were made of porcelain--touched him with a tenderness that bordered on reverence.
Images flashed through his mind in rapid succession. He saw Lee at twelve years old, hand raised, a fierce, determined look in his eyes as he declared his dream in front of his teammates and sensei—he saw Lee standing along in a forest clearing at night, fists slamming into a log dummy over and over, pushing himself to his limit and further—he saw Lee standing with his back to Gai, clutching the log with both hands, his shoulders shaking with sobs as he confessed his fears—he saw Lee fearlessly facing Gaara, one hand upraised, a smile on his face, eager to prove himself and his ninja way to the world—he saw Lee with his arm and leg encased in thick casts, a crutch under one arm, his eyes dark with pain—he saw Lee at sixteen, a tall, handsome young man, smiling in the sunlight, a young man on the verge of adulthood, but still in need of guidance, a young man who had become a splendid ninja, as he'd dreamed. These images all filled Gai's mind in a split second and crystallized into a single jolt of emotion that shook him to his core.
This was Lee. His Lee, who had been the center of his world for so long now. They'd already done almost everything else together…but somehow, it felt as though they were about to cross a final threshold.
"Gai Sensei?" Lee's voice trembled a little.
"Are you afraid?" Gai asked quietly.
Lee gulped. "N-no. I…"
Lee lowered his head. "Yes, I am a little scared. But I need this so much. Please…"
"I will. I just want you to know that it can stop anytime you want." He stroked Lee's thigh. "I want this to feel good for you."
He scooped a dollop of lubricant out of the jar and spread it over his cock, then hesitated. "Are you ready?"
He positioned himself over Lee and slowly—so slowly—slid into him.
Lee arched beneath him, then pushed backwards against him, taking more of Gai's cock into his body. A soft groan escaped Gai's throat, and his hips rocked forward, pushing into Lee. He looked down at Lee's hand, splayed on the sheets, and slid his own hand over it, his fingers interlocking with his student's. "Oh, God…Lee, you're so warm…so tight…" He thrust again and again—harder, faster—and he realized, with a twinge of fear, that he wasn't fully in control of himself. He'd wanted to do this for so long, needed it for so long. His body moved of its own accord, slamming into Lee's again and again. He couldn't stop now, even if he wanted to. "Oh, Lee, Lee, Lee…"
Lee gasped and moaned, his cheeks flushed, both hands clutching the pillow. His cheeks were streaked with tears, and Gai wondered if he was hurting him…but the sounds coming out of Lee's throat were not sounds of pain. A soft, breathless cry escaped him. "Gai Sensei!" He bit the pillow and squeezed his eyes shut.
"Look at me," Gai whispered hoarsely.
Lee's eyes sprang open.
Gai stared deep into them. "I love you," he whispered.
Another thrust, and Lee let out a sharp, high-pitched cry. Then Gai felt the walls of Lee's body contract around his cock, squeezing it. Lee's eyes opened wider and went blank, as if he'd been struck blind. For a moment, they focused on Gai's face…then slid out of focus, growing dreamy, soft and heavy-lidded, and Gai knew Lee had just come.
Gai felt himself nearing the edge. He pressed his face against Lee's sweaty back, breathing hard, and thrust into him hard and fast, hips pumping with furious energy. He felt himself release into Lee, and a soft grunt escaped his throat. He pulled out and flopped down onto the bed, chest heaving.
Lee lay down beside him, his cheek against Gai's shoulder. Gai turned his head to look into Lee's eyes and saw them overflowing with tears. "Are you all right?" he asked, alarmed.
"Yes." He smiled. "I am very happy."
"Lee…" His throat tightened, and for a moment, he couldn't speak. He kissed Lee's cheeks and lips, tasting the salt of his tears, then wrapped his arms around him and held him tight, as if he could merge their two bodies together through force of will alone.
Gai rested his cheek against Lee's forehead and closed his eyes. He could feel his student's heart beating against his.
From the moment he'd met Lee, he'd known that Lee was his purpose. To guide and protect him, to help him achieve his dream, to make him happy—that was why Gai lived. And he knew Lee lived for him, as well. Gai was generally not a believer in destiny, but there was no doubt in his mind that he and Lee had been born for each other…and nothing would tear Lee from his side. To exist without him would be worse than death.
He listened to Lee's breathing grow soft and even as he drifted off. "I love you," he whispered into Lee's ear. "Always, forever, no matter what. I love you more than you'll ever know. My reason, my life…my Lee."
In his sleep, Lee smiled and snuggled closer.